Many companies talk about being customer focused and selling on value, but where’s the evidence? Too often customer value is expressed, as in value propositions, but lost in execution they become value cliches that don’t set us apart, don’t connect us to the customer and don’t compel the customer to act. Today, and for the foreseeable future, the driving force of customer relevancy is value, and many companies will see themselves drawing the short end of the stick if they don’t figure out that what is actually required of a company to be truly customer centric is creating value and delivering on the value promise.
Take proposals, for example. I was just with a new client in Europe. This innovative and technically superior corporation had a challenge on their hands. They were driving a value strategy and customer centric messaging throughout their organization but not seeing bottom line results. When we were given sales and marketing collateral such as proposals, white papers, case studies, and a website to review, and conducted multiple interviews, the question we were asking ourselves was, “Where is their customer in this picture?” All this stuff was about the seller…their great achievements and super powerful products and services. We found that 90-plus percent of the content was about them and their solutions. There was a clear disconnect between the customer centric initiative and the organization’s ability to execute a great idea. We see this scenario repeat itself over and over again.
Where’s the innovation? We tend to articualte customer-centric and value-added in generic and ultimately meaningless terms. As a self-check, compare your collateral, your proposals, your web sites with two of your best competitors. Shuffle them up and re-assign them. Is there a difference?
Ask yourself, in a customer centric organization, what percentage of the proposal should be about the solution, the solution provider and the future value benefits, and what percentage should be about the potential customer of that solution, their business, objectives, obstacles they face, and the critical issues that need to be resolved?
How does this play out in your company?
The bottom line is: innovation is driven by creating value and if you’ve placed the value strategy in play, why aren’t customers responding? Simply said, if you cannot create and clarify value and connect it to your customer’s world, they will not take action, they will not buy, and your customer centric organization is just smoke and mirrors.